So many people are exposed to the popular fad diets that promise weight loss in no time at all. From gluten-free, low-carb, no fat or high protein, these diets claim to turn you into a new person with effective results.
It can be overwhelming and tiresome to try these diets only to feel tired and hangry, you know that feeling where you want to kill everyone in your path until you are fed a donut? Yup, we’ve all been there.
Lucky for you, there is actually a method of dieting that really works without putting your body through extensive changes. It has nothing to do with eating foods you hate or going on an hour-long run every day. Instead, you would skip a few meals occasionally to participate in what is called intermittent fasting. Fasting has to do with going without eating for anywhere between 15 to 35 hours. “How am I supposed to eat less when I already have a hard time as it is with dieting?” you may ask? Well, believe it or not, intermittent fasting is more simple than it seems.
Take this concept for example: sleeping. We all sleep, well except for the insomniacs, but they will have to sleep eventually. The lucky ones can log about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. When you sleep, are you eating food? Of course not, unless you are one of those sleepwalkers. As we sleep, we are actually able to sustain our bodies without food for that period of time. Intermittent fasting works in the same manner but it goes for a longer period of time. Plus, you are much more mindful about your eating habits.
It is about finding the right method that works for you. Once you do, you better believe that you will start to lose weight and reveal that defined body you’ve always dreamt of.
The History Behind Fasting
Since the early 1930s, there has been a lot of research behind the benefits of those who chose to lower their calorie intake with fasting. Research was conducted with mice and scientists discovered that the ones who skipped meals had lived longer and healthier than ones who ate more calories. There has also been research to support that reducing calorie intake by up to 40 percent can help people live longer. These studies show that limiting food consumption can decrease chances of chronic illness and disease. For patients dealing with diabetes, fasting can help improve the body’s response to insulin. This, in turn, will help regulate blood sugar levels.
When it comes to intermittent fasting, there are five that are most popular. As with anything else, you should go with the method that works best for you. You can’t expect to see the same exact results as the Instagram model because every person’s body type and reaction to methods will always be different. It doesn’t mean you can’t achieve results. You just have to find the way that works best for you. Fitness experts will tell you until you are blue in the face that you should find methods that you can incorporate into your life without making it that much more difficult to manage. Even though intermittent fasting is an effective method, it isn't meant for everyone. Always consult with a medical professional before starting a new diet.
Since each method is different, it only makes sense that each one has different guidelines for you to follow when you decide to fast. Check out how the five most common fasting methods are used and how one of them might work for you. Depending on your weight loss goals, this will help you determine the right method for your body and lifestyle.
Fasting Method #1: The 16/8 Method (Most Common)
Who can benefit: These people want to build muscle while burning body fat!
Women will fast for 14 hours and men will fast for 16 hours everyday. They can eat in the last 8 to 10 hours of the day. For the duration of fasting, dieters cannot consume calories but can add in coffee (no sugar, milk or cream), diet sodas and sugar-free drinks and gum. The easiest way to achieve this is to fast all evening and wait to eat until the morning. “Feeding” time usually occurs about 5 to 6 hours after waking up. This method is easier for people to adapt to because the majority of the fasting time happens when they are asleep. However when utilizing this method, it is best to stay consistent with the feeding and fasting time. You can risk sending your hormones on a roller coaster, which will only make it less likely to stick to the method.
Depending on your exercise schedule, the types of foods and when you eat them are just as important. Carb loading should happen on days that you have lots of physical activity while rest days should be higher in fat. Consistently, you need a good amount of protein.(If currently on the Keto diet, this can be modified to fit Keto & IF) Your age and gender also play a role in your needed protein intake. Your diet needs to consist of real and unprocessed food so yes, you need to say goodbye to that nasty pizza. Substitute meals with protein shakes if needed.
Pros: This method is popular because it lets you eat at any time frame that fits in the 8 hour feeding period. Most people will just eat 3 meals a day, which is something that we are mostly already accustomed to doing.
Cons: A complaint that some may have with this diet is that it restricts you on what you can eat. You also have to be mindful about eating specific things on days that you exercise and days that you don’t. People find it hard to stick to diets already so restricting the types of foods can be problematic for someone with less discipline.
Fasting Method #2: Eat Stop Eat
Who can benefit: People who already eat relatively healthy and are looking for improvements.
For 1 or 2 times a week, these people will fast for an entire 24 hour period. It is dubbed as the 24 break from eating. Dieters cannot consume any food except for calorie-free drinks. Once the fast has concluded, you just eat as you normally would before the fast. It is almost as if the fast never happened. Some people will go all out and eat a large meal and some will finish it off with a small snack.
This method, as the creator describes, is a way to reduce calories in the week without placing restrictions on what foods can be eaten. Participants of this method are also encouraged to incorporate physical exercise and strength training to make this method most effective.
Pros: Going 24 hours without food seems far-fetched but the program is much more flexible than its counterparts. You can also work yourself up to fasting for 24 hours. Try out fasting for as long as you can go and in small increments, increase the time you fast next time. Brad Pilon recommends that fasting on days that you are most busy will help you work through the day without eating easier. You can also be more lenient on this diet. Should you go off and eat a whole cake by yourself? Definitely not. But, you can have a slice and eat it too!
Cons: 24 hours without food can be problematic for people. Those who aren’t used to it can experience things like tiredness, headaches, crankiness and anxiousness. With more practice, these symptoms will cease but the difficulty may be too much for people to bear, causing them to binge eat after the fast.
Fasting Method #3: The Warrior Diet
Who can benefit: Those who need set plans that they can easily follow.
These people are expected to fast for up to 20 hours each day. They are allowed to eat one meal and this can be large. Typically, this meal will be eaten at night. The types of foods and when they are consumed are also important to following this method properly. You must feed the body the nutrients it is meant to have to sustain itself for the long-term.
The fasting segment allows for small servings of fruits and vegetables or fresh juice. Sometimes, protein can be added. This fasting phase is to support the body’s “fight or flight” response. It is supposed to increase focus, boost energy levels and promote the burning of fat.
During the feeding phase, Hofmekler, the creator, encourages dieters to overeat. This helps the body recuperate from the lack of food all day and helps the body digest and absorb nutrients. This method also helps the body produce hormones that aid in burning fat throughout the daytime. Food at night should mostly consist of protein, vegetables and healthy fat. Adding in carbs should be done so in moderation.
Pros: This method is popular because it allows people to eat small snacks throughout the day. People who have tried this method have reported feeling more energetic and being able to lose significant amounts of fat as well.
Cons: The allowable snacks are a nice touch but following the strictness of the diet during feeding can still be difficult for people. Being restricted to one meal a day AND what that meal can be is something that is way too hard for an average person to follow. And, for those who don’t tend to eat a lot in one sitting, this one meal can be too large for them to handle.
Fasting Method #4: Omega Body Blueprint
Who can benefit: The dedicated gym junkies who love to have cheat days.
This diet may be the Holy Grail of them all. It takes the Leangains, Eat Stop Eat and Warrior Diet and combines them into this super all-in-one diet. Plus, you get a cheat day, which is awesome. But, before you start jumping for joy, you should know that this cheat day is also followed by a 36 hour fast. Whoa! The remaining days will have different fasting periods.
The creator, John Romaniello, recommends that people utilize their busy days to fast for long periods of time. That way, their focus can be on staying productive rather than trying to figure out what to nosh on next. This diet also incorporates body training exercise routines to boost the effectiveness of weight loss and muscle strength.
Pros: We are creatures who fast on a regular basis. When we are not eating, we are fasting. This method just helps us to capitalize on this and benefit from the rewards it can bring. The 7-day schedule helps the body become accustomed to the method while still getting a cheat day. Now many people can definitely jump on board for that, alone.
Cons: For those without self-control, the cheat days can end up making it extremely difficult to keep food in moderation. Plus, the schedule is not completely consistent so it may be hard for others to follow it properly.
Fasting Method #5: The Alternate-Day Diet
Who can benefit: Dieters who have self-control and want to achieve an ideal weight.
This is probably the most simple diet between all the fasting methods. You basically eat a small amount one day but then bring it up to normal intake the next day. The days that you eat fewer calories should be about one-fifth of your regular intake. For the average 2,000 calorie diet, this means that those days will consist of about 500 calories.
James Johnson, the doctor behind this fasting method, suggests that dieters drink meal replacement shakes on low-calorie days. They are low in calories but usually contain all the nutrients that your body needs to sustain itself. You can drink these shakes for about the first few weeks and then transition to real food. Exercising is important to combine with dieting so save your exercise days for the times when you are eating more.
Pros: The purpose behind this method is for people who want to lose weight. When done properly, people have been known to lose about 2 ½ pounds a week.
Cons: This diet has the potential to make someone binge on the normal calorie intake day. To offset this risk, you should plan your meals in advance so that you are prepared when the time comes to eat. This will prevent you from reaching for that salty bag of chips.
Fasting, just as with any other diet, is not something that can be effective for just anyone. Those with chronic health conditions or dietary restrictions should seek guidance from a medical professional before starting any new nutritional program. Fasting is not something to take lightly either. You have to be fully committed and understand the difficulty you will experience with doing it. Your body will have to adapt to and may not be as easy or difficult as the next person. Make small strides and gradually increase your participation as you become more comfortable with it. Besides, it’s your body and you know it best. If something seems wrong, try something else. Only you can determine what fits your needs and lifestyle.